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UNMEB Enhances Exam Management To Streamline Processes, Curb Malpractice :: Uganda Radionetwork

UNMEB Enhances Exam Management To Streamline Processes, Curb Malpractice

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Juliet Twesigye, the examinations manager at UNMEB, says that in response to this evolving challenge and the need to streamline some processes, the board has taken a decisive action by introducing changes to effectively maintaining the integrity of healthcare education in Uganda.
03 Dec 2023 17:28
Some of the continuing nursing trainee at the release of the examination results.

Audio 2

The Uganda Nurses and Midwifery Examinations Board (UNMEB) has implemented changes in the administration, management and conduct of examination to streamline process and  combat the growing threat of malpractice.

Helen Mukakarisa Kataratambi, the Executive Secretary of UNMEB says the recently implemented changes are aimed at tackling the pervasive issue of examination malpractice, a significant challenge that poses a threat to the nursing profession.

"We didn't have incidents of malpractice in the past. A nurse, who will be responsible for people's lives, should not have graduated with a history of malpractice. This suggests that the individual may lack the necessary competencies," stated Mukakarisa. 

The Executive Secretary conveyed these sentiments over the weekend during a stakeholders briefing held in preparation for the December 2023 semester examination. The meeting brought together various stakeholders in the health sector, including institution owners, deputy principals, tutors, senior and retired nurses, as well as members of the Nurses Council. 

While malpractice has been a longstanding issue plaguing the education sector, with different examination and assessment institutions grappling to curb its prevalence, UNMEB had remained relatively untouched until the June 2019 examinations. During this period, the board identified and penalized 13 candidates who had received external support.

Following the isolated incident in June 2019, instances of malpractice within UNMEB examinations have exhibited a troubling upward trajectory, manifesting in diverse forms. Notably, students have been found entering examination rooms with notes, resorting to writing on their thighs, and even engaging in the forgery of logbooks. 

Juliet Twesigye, the examinations manager at UNMEB, says that in response to this evolving challenge and the need to streamline some processes, the board has taken a decisive action by introducing changes to effectively maintaining the integrity of healthcare education in Uganda. 

The changes commence with a shift in the packaging of the examinations themselves, introducing a novel packing approach to distinctly separate the theory and practical papers.

“For an appropriate storage of the examination, the board has introduced a black bag for practical examination. this has been done to separate theory examination which will be in the grey bags used during week one, from the practical examinations to be used in week two,” a document highlighting the changes states in part. 

The revelation underscores that in the past, both theory and practical examination papers were contained within the same bag, leading to concerns about potential compromises, particularly in the handling of the practical papers. 

Within the UNMEB document, explicit guidelines have been provided regarding the individuals responsible for the retrieval and return of examination papers. The document also outlines accountability measures for answer sheets. Moreover, an incident report has been instituted, compelling supervisors to meticulously document any significant incidents, including instances of malpractice, witnessed at the examination center. 

Furthermore, the introduction of an absentee tracking form is noteworthy, placing an obligation on school heads to furnish detailed explanations if a registered candidate fails to partake in the examination at the semester's end. This proactive measure is designed to enhance accountability in monitoring and ensuring the attendance of candidates throughout the examination period.

The board has also introduced a serial number on each of the answer booklet with an aims to track booklets for accurate results and prevent script switching or inserting of foreign answer sheets. “The candidates must append their signatures and record the serial number of their answer booklet against each paper sat per day under supervision of invigilators,” the document adds. 

A ten-minute extension has been granted for the three-hour papers to accommodate candidates' sign-in procedures on the exam album. This ensures alignment with examination cards that include photographs and biographical data. The invigilators closely observe the process to maintain consistency.

UNMEB has also revised practice examination guidelines, limiting the number of students in the room to five at a time. “This has to continue until all move out after they have rotated in the 5 stations...any other form not prescribed by UNMEB like the continuous type also known as “kajegere” is not accepted” the board noted adding that center-coordinating supervisors, typically from institutions or teaching hospitals, are not to be involved in the preparation of practical papers.

In addition to the introduced changes, Mukakarisa also cautioned principals and other administrators against signing logbooks, emphasizing that they are not designated supervisors during nurses' hospital deployments.

According to her, a principal signing a logbook is considered malpractice. She disclosed that the board has identified over 30 logbooks from previous examination series with such issues. 

//Cue in; “We found.... 

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The nursing board has been stringent on logbook integrity, and students found with forged logbooks in previous years faced expulsion from the nursing profession. 

Logbooks are crucial for nurse trainees, documenting clinical experiences, patient encounters, procedures, medications administered, and other vital information. These records help assess the trainees' competency, proficiency, and overall progress in various nursing skills and tasks. 

Dr. Safinah Kisu Musene, the Director of Higher, Technical, and Vocational Education and Training at the Ministry of Education, welcomed the changes, emphasizing that maintaining the integrity of the examination process is essential for the credibility of the assessment itself. 

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Cue out...been trained for.”// 

UNMEB is not the first assessment board to enhance its examination administration system to combat malpractice. The Uganda National Examinations Board has previously implemented various measures, including the introduction of photo albums and random numbers, to deter malpractice and maintain the integrity of their examinations. 

Malpractice in health training institutions has been attributed to the rising prevalence of private institutions in a domain that was historically dominated by public institutions and a limited number managed by religious-based organizations. Additionally, there are concerns that the perpetuation of malpractice in health education may be linked to students who have experienced or been exposed to such practices during their earlier education years in primary and secondary schools. 

Meanwhile, available data indicates that a total of 54,755 candidates from 121 centers have been registered to take part in 36 examination series, corresponding to the 12 semester examinations. The examination period is scheduled to run from December 4 to December 15, 2023.